kitchen table math, the sequel: wake me when it's over

Thursday, December 16, 2010

wake me when it's over

cross-posted to the Irvington Parents Forum:

I attended a meeting on the Race to the Top teacher evaluation protocols up in Bedford, and the new regs are a horror.

I’m completely off the boat with RTTT. If even half of what I heard the other night is true, schools are going to become a compliance nightmare beyond imagining as every teacher in the state receives annual ratings of “highly effective” and all probationary teachers are granted the right to years of appeals when they don’t get tenure. This is the ultimate bad law.

I talked to a number of school board members coming out of the meeting as well as one assistant superintendent. They were reeling.

Preview of coming attractions: under the new law, a school with 40 teachers could have ALL FORTY TEACHERS appeal their RTTT-mandated evaluations AT THE SAME TIME, and the principal would be required to respond to all 40 appeals on deadline and with multiple documents and timelines and rationales and data sets and god knows what else in order.

Schools will have to hire armies of administrators to process all the appeals. More likely, everyone will be rated Highly Effective forever.



Anonymous said...

One of the things that I find interesting/amazing/baffling is that the total RTTT funds are about $4.5B. The 50 states spend, in total, about $500B per year on K-12 education.

So, we have the (to me) very strange spectacle of the state departments of education turning themselves upside down/inside out and bending over backwards for ... a 1% increase in funding.

I am quite sure that the company I work for would not revamp large portions of our internal workflow details for a 1% increase in sales. It would be clearly FOLLY.

And yet, this is essentially what the states are doing. Why haven't most of the states just opted out and said something like, "You know, we actually think we know something about educating kids. It just isn't worth it to us to revamp everything for a 1% increase in budget." ???

Any ideas?

-Mark Roulo

SteveH said...

Not all states are getting the money, and each state has to come up with their own plan. I assume that what Catherine is talking about is for NY. In our state, each town has to come up with a plan (or how they fit into the state's framework). Our superintendent referred to a 53 page document in the local paper, but I haven't seen it yet. In any case, I'm not optimistic that we will use the money more wisely than NY.

I think that one of the federal requirements is to open up more charter schools. This would be good in our state as long as the limits on the charters were loosened up. We just eliminated the moratorium on charter schools (because of RTT money), but most are designed for kids who aren't wanted by the regular schools. Public schools don't want to see their best students filling up the lotteries for academically rigorous charter schools. Also, our school committee has gone on record as saying that because most of our kids meet the (low) state proficiency cutoffs, they should NOT be allowed to go to charter schools.

Susan Riley said...

This IS a very scary attempt at trying to revamp NCLB. In Maryland, we've just now seen what the state board of ed is proposing for teacher evaluations and I can tell you that most teachers in the room that looked it over with me are trying to figure out if they can retire by 2014 when it goes into effect. 50% of their evaluation will now be based on test scores alone and the other 50% based upon the current system in place. We routinely give the most challenging students to our best teachers, yet those teachers will be punished if those students cannot meet the same expectations as those in above grade level courses. It's absurd. In addition, teachers can be rotated every 4-7 years, so if you're doing really well in a school they can move you to another school that may be struggling. How will those teachers build a feeling of relationship with their colleagues or feel as though they are an integral part of the fabric in a school's community when they can be moved at a moment's notice? Thankfully, the plan is not set in stone yet and is still being worked on. But if it goes through as is, I am afraid for the state of education in this country. Because the teachers will not be the ones to suffer - it will be the students when all the good teachers leave.

Karen W said...

It doesn't make any sense to do all of this for a (temporary) 1% increase in budget. However, the State Dept of Ed may have some other incentives. In Iowa, the DE planned to keep half of the money ($87.5 mil) to spend on its own efforts to force constructivism and 21st century whatever on reluctant high schools. I have heard that the DE was permitted to hire 40 additional employees to monitor compliance with Iowa Core Curriculum (which includes essentially adopting the Core-Plus table of contents as our statewide H.S. math standards). Our charter school law is so restrictive, they didn't mind renewing it to get the money. Plus, more employees (contracts?) to align the Iowa Core with CCSSI.

In other words, it's all upside to the DE bureaucrats who control the application decisions, have easy access to lobbying the legislature and would spend half the money even if it is all downside to the actual schools/students. We didn't even win any of the RttT money, but get to keep the hastily passed legislation that came with applying for it.

Incidentally, the large school districts balked at joining the RttT application but their concerns were not enough to stop the DE from pursuing the money.